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London Boulevard (Blu-ray Review)

17 Feb, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 2/21/12
Sony Pictures
Box Office $0.02 million
$30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.
Stars Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan.

Thirty years ago, Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) vowed he’d one day direct a movie with the opening credits accompanied by the Yardbirds’ pounding rock song “Heart Full of Soul.”

Monahan gets his wish in the excellent London Boulevard — a gritty gangster movie that pulsates a ’60s look and vibe in present-day England. Based on a novel by Irish crime writer Ken Bruen, London finds paroled tough guy Mitchell (never better Colin Farrell) determined to go straight — despite a penchant for short-tempered revenge. He even considers hiring on as a bodyguard to Charlotte (Keira Knightley) — a not-so-naïve waif-like Euro starlet who is hounded by paparazzi to the point of reclusiveness.

He would be the muscle to Charlotte’s doped-up hippie confidante, Jordan (David Thewlis), who is wildly cynical of authority, yet oddly sublime with integrity.

Despite the best of intentions, Mitchell can’t escape a reputation that evokes both adulation and nickel-and-dime inquiries from the opportunistic past. The nonexistent home front isn’t much better for Mitchell, who must chaperone a misbehaving sister (“Pushing Daisies” pixie Anna Friel) from further self-inflicted dysfunction.

Thus, it’s not a stretch Mitchell would seek redemption and love in Charlotte, whose vacuous image is literally plastered everywhere and nowhere of significance. “You really need to go to Los Angeles,” Mitchell tells Charlotte in surprising clarity one day — the City of Angels providing a safe haven from the British tabloids and a glimmer of sanity despite the overarching shadow of Hollywood.

But first there’s that revenge stuff. It’s here that London showcases a hardboiled scrabble with few heroes. It’s an entertaining movie despite myriad loose ends and incomprehensible dialects that requires astute attention and an occasional push of the rewind button.

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